Discovering Geylang's Transformation: From Gritty to Gourmet



Geylang, once infamous for housing Singapore's most notorious red-light district, is undergoing a remarkable transformation. This neighborhood, situated in proximity to Singapore's Central Business District, is now becoming a sought-after residential and commercial hub while still preserving its unique culture and culinary heritage.

A Glimpse into History

In the 19th century, Geylang was home to a small settlement along the Geylang River, primarily occupied by Malay households residing in stilt houses. The area's landscape changed as the British took control of the waterways for trade, causing the settlers to shift inland. This led to the birth of modern-day Geylang Serai, a name believed to be derived from the sea gypsies ("orang laut") who once inhabited the region, and the cultivation of lemongrass.

Initially, the majority of families in Geylang made a living through farming, but the demand for agricultural land outpaced supply as the population grew. As a result, the settlement expanded eastward and inland. After World War II, Geylang experienced significant changes. The region became overcrowded due to a post-war baby boom, turning it into a slum. The introduction of the first housing blocks in Geylang Serai in 1963 marked the beginning of its transformation into the vibrant neighborhood it is today.

A Flavorful and Cultural Hub

In recent years, Geylang has embraced its authenticity as gentrification swept through other parts of Singapore. It is known for its lively markets, especially the Geylang Serai Market, which serves as the cultural heart of Singapore's Malay community. During Ramadan, the Geylang Serai Bazaar attracts massive crowds eager to savor local delights such as the famous Ramly burger, along with the mesmerizing light display that adorns the two-kilometer stretch at Geylang.

Geylang Road, the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, is a haven for durian enthusiasts, with numerous stalls offering the spiky fruit. You can watch as the vendors expertly open the durian for you to enjoy at a roadside table. The area is also renowned for its diverse range of food stalls, some of which have been serving satisfied customers for decades. Notable mentions include the Lorong 9 fresh frog porridge stall and beef noodles, and the world-famous Sin Huat Eating House at Lorong 35.

City Plaza, an aging mall close to Paya Lebar MRT station, is popular among teenagers for its affordable wholesale clothing and accessories, imported from countries like Thailand and China.

A Vibrant and Well-Connected Locale

Geylang 2

Geylang's popularity is enhanced by its proximity to the city center. The neighborhood lies on the eastern fringe of the city core, just 15 minutes from the CBD. Excellent public transport links, including Aljunied, Dakota, and MacPherson MRT stations, ensure easy access. The East-West Line connects the area to the CBD in under 15 minutes, and further connectivity is expected with the opening of Geylang Bahru, Ubi and Mattar stations on the Downtown Line 3, providing direct access to the northwest of Singapore.

A Promising Investment Opportunity

Gems Ville

Beyond its culinary and cultural charm, Geylang offers a promising real estate market. The recent Build-To-Order exercise for the Dakota Breeze project attracted substantial interest, with more than 3,100 applicants vying for approximately 670 flats. The condos in Geylang is also thriving, exemplified by the popularity of Gems Ville which set to TOP in 2024.

Promising developments like Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) indicate a bright future. The government's plans to re-zone specific areas in Geylang suggest a potential scarcity of housing, likely driving up condo prices. Additionally, the development of Paya Lebar Central is expected to boost property values in the area.

For those who have invested in Geylang, this unique neighborhood promises not only a rich cultural experience but also a prosperous future in real estate.